A vital piece of Swindon’s industrial past will soon become a major part of its spiritual future.That’s the hope of the Church of England.

The Diocese of Bristol, which covers Swindon, has been given planning permission by officers at Swindon Borough Council to transform the old Great Western Railway Pattern Store into a major new place of worship.

The Church hopes that it will draw a new audience - people that have either not been to an Anglican church before or who have lost the habit.

Rebecca Cross is the strategic programme manager for the diocese of Bristol. She said: “We want to offer something different for the people of Swindon. It’s a much bigger space than is currently available in the town - it will hold hundreds of worshippers - at least 250 while most churches in Swindon are much smaller.

“We will be using it for lots of different things, but hope that people who haven’t been to church before, or who have been before but stopped going might want to come along.”

When it is finished the pattern store, which is grade II listed and dates back to the last years of the nineteenth century, will feature a major auditorium arranged around a semi-circular stage on the ground floor, to be used for services and other events such as music or drama.

On the next floor will be a cafe and lobby with classrooms and meeting spaces, with a floor above that set aside for activities for young people - including a large room for group activities. On the top floor work stations will be set up for study.

Rebecca said: “The building was used as a restaurant but has been empty for a while so there will be quite a bit of work to transform it. We shall be displaying some of the original patterns used here on the walls as a link back to the building’s history.”

The diocese is in the middle of the tender process to appoint the contractors to carry out the work, and it is hoped the successful company will begin in late spring or early summer.

Rebecca said: “If all goes well then we hope we might be in before Christmas. It would be very exciting to have a Midnight Mass at the new church.”

The building will be called the Pattern Church and has already begun services outside the building at The Platform in Faringdon Road. There will be a Mothering Sunday service at the Pattern Store in Penzance Drive at 10am this Sunday. Refreshments will be available from 9.30am.